An association of cinema halls has recommended to the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry that movie theatres be allowed to function with 25% to 30% capacity. This request has been forwarded to the Union Home Ministry.
I&B Secretary, Amit Khare has recommended for reopening of cinema halls in August. He said, as per a report in The Statesman, that theatres may be allowed to resume all over India as early as August 1st. In regards to sitting arrangements for the theatres, the alternative seats in the first row and then the next row will be kept vacant and proceeding in this manner throughout. But the cinema hall owners who were part of the interaction have rejected this formula saying that its unwise and merely running films at 25% auditorium capacity is worse than keeping theatres shut.
Khare said the I&B Ministry’s recommendation takes into consideration the two-meter social distancing norm but tweaks it gently to two yards instead. However, the Home Ministry still has to revert on this.
Devang Sampat, Director at the Multiplex Association of India (MAI), according to a report in LiveMint, admitted that all documents and standard operating procedures were in place for reopening in Unlock 3.0. Gautam Dutta, CEO, PVR Cinemas said the industry is extremely hopeful of getting permissions starting August and hope to resume across states by the end of September.
Its to be noted that states like Bihar and Tamil Nadu are still under lockdown, and entertainment hubs like Mumbai continue to record spike in COVID19 cases. With the ongoing pandemic, theatre chains have already invested in safety and hygiene protocols. A report in LiveMint highlighted that PVR has come up with a completely contactless transaction system whereby the customer has to only scan the QR codes available at multiple touchpoints through his phone camera to book tickets and then order food and beverage. Given COVID19, no physical tickets will be sold.
Sources said there would be no checks as the theatre’s entrance would be fitted with sensors which will be followed by temperature checks, failing which the customer would be denied entry.